Six-times world rally champion Sébastien Loeb is now back at the top of the WRC standings after a dominant victory on 2010’s Rally Mexico. In the April 2010 issue of CAR we follow Citroën Junior Team driver Kimi Räikkönen on season opener Rally Sweden – where Sebastien Loeb finished second – and catch up with Loeb afterwards.
CAR: Did you ever consider retiring at the end of last year, and what is your motivation to continue?
'Not really, I like what I do and I am still motivated. The reason is simply because I enjoy my job – I am lucky enough to live from my passion.'
Have your preparations for this year been any different from previous years?
'No, except that we have had more time for PR and promotion as the season break was a bit longer. I also have the feeling that we have had a few more requests from the media. Maybe because the title fight [with Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen, who Loeb beat by one point] was close, or perhaps because it was the sixth consecutive title.'
What about testing and fitness training?
'We’ll be using the DS3 next year, so we’ve been testing for that and we continue tests for the C4. Regarding training, there’s not much during off-season. I took some time off and especially enjoyed staying at home with my daughter.'
Were you surprised by how strong Mikko Hirvonen was in Sweden?
'Not at all. I was expecting this. I gave up trying to compete by the end of the rally and made sure I got second place.'
Do you think you would have found it easier competing in an F1 car [Loeb’s application for an F1 licence was turned down] than Kimi Räikkönen has found driving a rally car?
'I don’t think any kind of swap like he is doing or the other way round would be easy. The approach is different, the environment, but above all the type of racing. For him the crucial point would be to get the pacenotes right...'
Have you worked much with Kimi?
'No we haven’t worked together, first of all because he is in our Junior Team. Then he has only joined us a few weeks ago and he is getting to know all of us. He sat alongside me in Sweden at the pre-event tests as he wanted to see how I was driving. More than giving him any advice it was more for him to see someone else's driving style.'
How has the WRC changed since you first started competing?
'I am now the oldest! Well, it’s not really changed actually, but there is more promotion, that’s for sure.'
Would you like to rally beyond 2011 [Loeb is contracted to Citroën for another two seasons]?
'I don’t know at all. This is why I have the possibility to stop if I wish.'
Do you think next year's regulations [B-segment cars with four-wheel drive and 1.6-litre turbo powertrains will replace today’s C-segment 2.0-litre turbo 4x4s] are the correct way forward for the WRC?
'Yes they are as they should allow teams to build cheaper rally cars, and so help new manufacturers enter the WRC.'
What would you like to do in the future?
'If I knew I would tell you but I don’t! Something to do with motorsport, that’s for sure, as I don’t see myself away from it completely.'